That’s it..I QUIT! I am not enough…

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We are now three weeks in to 2016.  Do you find yourself already trying to keep up, catch your breath, and are you drowning in broken new years promises and resolutions?  Take a moment and reflect on the amazing ways you have been stretched, grown, and learned who you are.  Take that positive energy and say “I AM ENOUGH”. Now, repeat. Friends, you are indeed enough, no matter who you are or in what season of life you find yourself. Come join us Leakies for this weeks edition of our newsletter as we talk about that “one thing” that we can do to become the change we want to see in the world (and start with your little world right in front of you).
-TLB Team
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You are enough

Let’s make that statement a given. Whatever you are facing today, whatever challenges, whatever insecurities, whatever voices in your head, you are enough. No matter what people say to tear you down, or keep you down, you are enough. 

It’s a great starting point. It’s the best starting point. It opens you up to all the possibilities of growth, change, creativity, healthy relationships, balance, adventure, and everyday tasks done well. 

You are enough. 

With that as a given, how can you be the best version of yourself today? 

That’s a difficult question to answer, and the millions of vehicles on the information highway all have a their own “right” answers to this question, in all its various applications: how can you be the best mother or father today? Or the best partner? How can you be the best cook for your family, or for yourself? How can you be the best working parent? Or the best sexual partner? Or the fittest version of yourself? The most compassionate? The most inspiring? The most self-actualized?

We are multi-faceted individuals, and for each facet we are faced with the question: how can it be all that it can be? And for each question, an information-storm of answers is at our fingertips, thanks to the internet, not to mention our friends’ take on it and what our mom, dad, and grandparents had to say about it growing up (and still do), and our own pastor/yogi/Oprah/mentor has to say about it too.  

That’s it, I quit, I am not enough.  

But I am enough. 

You are enough. 

So where do we start? To continue reading, go to HERE.

– Jeremy, The Piano Man
BeyondMoi.com

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Bipolar Parenting- The Fear My Children Would Be Better Off Motherless

by Joni Edelman

In 2005, my oldest sons were five and seven years old. On a summer afternoon I found them in a hurricane of kicks and slaps, a disagreement over legos or hot wheels. I raised my voice, yelling, STOP. Unfazed by my clenched fists, my volume, the anger in my eyes and in my scowl, their fighting continued. My rage reached boiling. I scanned the room. My eyes landed on a wooden chair near the door and brought it down on the hardwood floor in a crash, splinters flying, the flooring scratched. The fighting stopped and their expressions told a story of terror.

I remember those faces — still. It’s been 10 years.

***

In the summer of 1983 my best friend ever in the entire universe came to my house for a sleepover. My house was the best house for sleepovers. We had Twinkies and microwave popcorn, fruit roll-ups and A&W Root Beer — and all the things 9 year old’s dreams are made of. The cabinets were organized alphabetically; Twinkies by the Triscuits, popcorn by the Pasta-roni.

I had a daisy comforter and three decorative pillows, my own TV, and eight Cabbage Patch dolls. My mom would sometimes be gone all night — which only added to the allure.

Me and my best friend forever ate the popcorn, and everything else, and watched whatever was on TV (which wasn’t much). And went to sleep.

When we woke up Saturday morning, the house was quiet, and I had a new stepfather. Steve worked construction and smelled like stale cigarettes and tequila and freshly milled 2X4s. He yelled a lot. I didn’t like him. He had three pesky, filthy children, who I also didn’t like.

Friday night, my mom and Steve went to Vegas. And Saturday morning I had a new family. The next week, in the middle of a school day, my mom picked me up. From school we went to Steve’s house, which was dirty, remotely located, and surrounded by flooded groves of walnut trees and fields of cotton. I didn’t like it either.

I never saw my school — or my desk full of Hello Kitty pencils — again.

This may seem like odd behavior, because it is, but it wasn’t for me. Sudden changes in locale, housing, men, stepsiblings, schools, all typical. I loathed it. I was accustomed to it.

***

Ten years later I was living on my own and helping my sixth stepfather raise my 4-year-old sister. My mom was living in some remote city in Northern California, with the addict who would ostensibly become my seventh stepfather. I was in college, married, pregnant, terrified.

In early adulthood the bipolar disorder that was my genetic destiny was pushed around — shuffled from doctor to doctor, city to city, misdiagnosis to misdiagnosis. Deeply distressed, consumed by sadness, it was just “postpartum depression.” If I had manic energy, it was “drive” or “passion” or “dedication.” Snap decisions, irresponsible, risky, promiscuous, it was just “life learning.” I never finished anything I started, something always got in the way. It was never Bipolar Disorder.

It was always Bipolar Disorder.

I wanted children, a family — stability to heal my wounds. And I knew the truth, I was very sick. I wanted desperately to be anyone but my mother, but, always suppressed, always explained away, I was exactly like my mother. All night sewing marathons, consuming obsession with fitness, organization, church, gardening, decor, 17 kinds of crafts. My magical thinking, my invincibility. The rage. The waves of crippling depression.

I had three children who were pushed aside, when I was sad, or busy, which was a lot of the time. I yelled. I cried. I retreated. I apologized. I did it all again — an infinite loop of dysfunction.

I wanted to be the best mother. The opposite of my mother. I wanted to do it all, and well. But  I wasn’t doing it well. I was doing what I could. But sometimes what you can do isn’t enough.

There was always fear, the fear of the unspoken truth, the elephant in the room — in my life, all around me —  as much as I didn’t want to be my mother, I was. I ignored it, ultimately medicating the long troughs of depression, celebrating the months of boundless energy, denying the dysfunctional behavior;  the out of control spending, the risk taking, the defiance, the promiscuity, the rage.

For 20 years.

***

When I was 40, I met my psychiatrist, a diminutive man, who drinks lattes and eats Sun Chips during my appointments. The man who mixed a complicated cocktail of psychiatric medications, and finally leveled my moods. The man that rose my depression, and stole my mania, and bridged the gap between crippling sadness and dangerous madness. The man who changed it all.

Despite the bridge, my moods still shift from time to time. Lately they’ve been low, I’ve planned my death seven different ways. And so we adjust my dosages. Three months ago they were high, high enough that I didn’t want to sleep. But I continued to swallow the usual pills, and the extra pills he prescribed to force the sleep I hate, to shut me down. We move my meds up and down, in spite of the sometimes crippling side effects. In the name of sanity. In the name of trying to be a safe place for my five children.

Bipolar Parenting, Joni Edelman

I’m still scared. I’m scared that the 10 years I lived in denial hurt my children, irreparably.  I’m scared that they will grow up and write something like this, recounting a childhood of fear and dysfunction. I’m scared that the cocktail that keeps me alive may stop working — that the depths of depression will take hold, and I won’t be able to shake it. And I will die. And leave them motherless.

I’m scared that they might be better off motherless.

I’m scared that one of them will have this cursed gift. I’m scared they will blame me, like I blamed her. I’m scared that someday I’ll be her, and not even know.

Every night I brush my teeth and I swallow five pills and I hope that I can be better, that I am better.

___________________________

IMG_0670 I’m Joni. I’m lucky enough to have 5 amazing kids (19, 16, 15, 4 and 2), one fantastic husband, an awesome sister and a yarn addiction. When I’m not raising up people I’m a freelance writer, RN, and the momma behind mommabare. Love is my religion. I like cake and crafty crap. And yoga. In that order. 
You can follow Joni on Instagram here and on Twitter here.
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Six Ways To Support Someone With Postpartum Depression/Postpartum Anxiety

by Jessica Martin-Weber, illustration by Jennie Bernstein

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I can’t tell you the number of times each day we receive messages or have posts in the community group or on The Leaky Boob Facebook page wall from women just beginning to wade into the waters of acknowledging their struggle with postpartum depression and anxiety. The numbers, if we tracked them, would be staggering.

But they aren’t surprising.

According to the American Psychological Association, it is estimated that 9-16 percent of women who have had a baby will experience postpartum depression. Of those, 41% will go on to have it again after subsequent babies.

Which means chances are strong you or someone you know is struggling with postpartum depression or has dealt with it in the past.

The American Psychological Association describes the symptoms of PPD thus:

For mothers, PPD can:

  • affect ability to function in everyday life and increase risk for anxiety, cognitive impairment, guilt, self blame, and fear;
  • lead to difficulty in providing developmentally appropriate care to infants;
  • lead to a loss of pleasure or interest in life, sleep disturbance, feelings of irritability or anxiety, withdrawal from family and friends, crying, and thoughts of hurting oneself or one’s child;
  • be particularly problematic because of the social role adjustments expected of new mothers, which include immediate and constant infant care, redefining spousal and familial relationships, and work role.

The day I knew something was wrong with me was when my second baby was 5 weeks old and I was standing at my kitchen counter, staring blankly into the chocolate milk I was stirring, wishing I could get caught in the whirlpool swirling in my glass. I realized that I was fantasizing about committing suicide in my chocolate milk. That’s nor normal and that’s probably not good, I thought, then I took a drink of the chocolate milk I had just imagined drowning in and numbly turned back to my two children. They needed me, I was the one that was so weak of a person in character that I couldn’t handle it and wanted to die. My thoughts were that I needed to buck up, develop stronger character, and just be a good mom who loved being a good mom.

But I couldn’t try my way out of it. I was certain I was inadequate in every way possible.

The day my husband knew I needed help (he knew something was wrong before then) was when he came home to find me hiding in our closet while the toddler was crying downstairs and the baby was screaming in her bassinet. I had put myself there because I was afraid I was going to hurt my children. Standing above my baby’s bassinet where she was once again screaming, I hadn’t felt sympathy or concern for her, all I had felt was overwhelmed, failure, and the desire to throw her against the wall. Feelings that were so foreign to me and so strong that I became afraid for my children, afraid of what I could be capable of. I hadn’t even known I was capable of feeling that way in the first place. My husband called my midwife and appointment was set that would lead to other appointments and some medications.

Coming through that time was like being caught in a whirlpool, fighting a rushing current that threatened to suck me down. Sometimes I didn’t have the fight for it. Sometimes I did. Sometimes I didn’t but found the fight inspired by my children, my husband, and my friends. In the beginning, that was often the only way I found the fight.

Telling the people around us was a game changer. We were in a transitional time of our life, having just started being a part of a new community a few months before. Our previous community had splintered, we had just moved, and we felt disconnected from friends and never had been very close with our families and I just lost one of the closest family members I had to dementia then death the very day my daughter was born. My family, so far away, was already dealing with a hurt and loss so big I didn’t want to be responsible for adding to it. Hundreds, even thousands of miles and relational fractures separated us from the people in our life that previously had been our people. We were just starting to find that again and I was terrified that this depression, this overwhelming, all consuming inner oppression would drive them away and destroy my family’s chance at having a place to belong and people who cared.

Then something amazing happened. Those people cared anyway.

A small group of friends who we played in a band with and did shared faith with dared to care. Without us even telling them at first, they began to push into our lives a bit, even when I pushed them away. Eventually, we opened up and shared our struggle.

It was then they all grabbed an oar and began paddling my lifeboat against the current of that whirlpool even when I couldn’t. They helped save me. They also helped me find my own paddle not only for myself but to jump in and help when I have friends in the same boat.

As a society we don’t talk enough about mental health and postpartum depression gets little more than a checklist run through with our care providers. So much shame, stigma, and fear comes with admitting struggles with mental health even when we know that it isn’t an issue of good vs bad character. For those of us in the midst depression it can be difficult to express what we need, we may not even know ourselves. For those of us loving someone in the midst of depression it can be difficult to know what our loved ones need, how to be there, or how to help. For those of us with friends and acquaintances we suspect may be floundering, it can be difficult to know. I’m still learning but here is what my friends have taught me in truly supporting someone dealing with mental illness:

  1. Acceptance. Don’t argue that they don’t feel the way they feel, don’t point out they seem to be ok. Accepting what I admitted was what I was experiencing helped me accept it as well. That is the first step for getting better.
  2. Listen. Even if they don’t have anything to say. Even if they do and it takes them a while to figure out how to get it out.
  3. Wait. You may think you know exactly what they need but jumping in with all your suggestions to fix it can be crippling for the one who is not well. Wait with them, along side them but don’t tell them every idea you have for how they can better. Please be quiet about your oils, the diet suggestions, your faith belief promises, your books, your conviction that if they just count their blessings everything will be better, your recommendations for fresh air, and to get moving. Just wait with them. Be with them.
  4. Be there. One of the many sucky parts of depression and anxiety is that it often tells the sufferer they aren’t worthy, aren’t good enough for love. Messages of inadequacy may flood their spirit and in attempting to avoid that pain, they may attempt to avoid the people that want to be there through it and beyond. Be there anyway. Gently, patiently, persistently. Respect your boundaries while you be there and don’t tolerate abuse, but if you can continue being there even when you are pushed away, you may very well help them anchor themselves enough to fight against the current of depression and anxiety that tells them they aren’t good enough.
  5. Share. Knowing others have gone and are going through similar struggles can help. Comfort that maybe they aren’t alone, that others may understand, and that they are not a freak can help those suffering with mental health issues find their own inner power. And to know that others have gone through and emerged able to talk about it and having found a path that worked for them is a message of hope.
  6. Help. Oh this one is hard. How do you help without being pushy? How do you help without trying to fix them? My husband explains it this way: fight along side them, not in front of them (they don’t need a knight in shinning armor), not against them (distracts from the real battle), not behind them (makes them feel they need to watch their back), along side them. My friends helped me most by coming over and playing with my children, holding my baby even when she was screaming (she had reflux, she was often screaming), by sharing their personal experiences with depression and anxiety, by asking me and really wanting to know how I was doing, and by celebrating my good moments when I wanted to celebrate them.

Have a friend or partner you are concerned about? You can help her and by helping her you are helping her children as well. The road to healing isn’t always easy but it’s better when we’re not alone.

Not sure if you or someone you love is experiencing normal baby blues or postpartum depression or postpartum anxiety? This list may help put things in perspective.

 

 

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Party Like a Leaky Part 4 – International Edition

 The Leaky Boob is turning 5 years old and we’re celebrating ALL MONTH LONG! And this week the party is going international to include all the readers in the 173 countries where TheLeakyBoob.com is read.

To celebrate we’re collecting and sharing your stories along with collecting some of our favorite maternity, breastfeeding, and baby products to give as gifts to YOU Leakies. Each week our celebration includes a different birthday bash bundle of prizes from our favorite brands, presents for Leakies. AND we’re growing!

Some of us aren’t breastfeeding or bottle-feeding any more (and you thought it was going to last forever) but you’re still a part of our community and you’re still nourishing and loving your family so we’ve grown to expand two more communities where we can talk about our highs and lows of that journey in a safe, judgment-free environment. Over on BeyondMoi.com we talk a lot about, well, everything, specially about parenting and relationships. OurStableTable.com invites everyone to find a seat at the table embracing that sometimes there’s a little wobble in one of our legs, making room for allergies, and creatively nourishing our whole selves with recipes and a lot of honest conversation.

Last, but not least, we have launched our newsletter which brings together TLB, Beyond Moi, and OST, with exclusive special features not available anywhere else, giveaways, round ups, and more from the community. Our first newsletter and sign-ups available here

Our family is growing and we’re happy to share it with you!


Let’s party like a Leaky this month and #TLBsupportForward!

giveaway, The Leaky Boob, international, baby products, nursing, breastfeeding

Here is what’s included in TLB’s Birthday Bash Bundle #4:

Ameda: Purely Yours Double Electric Breast Pump – Retail Value: $194
Whether you are returning to work or want a fast and easy pumping experience, the Ameda Purely Yours double electric breast pump, designed for daily use, is the ideal breast pump. The Purely Yours breast pumps combine hospital recommended technology with mom friendly features.  Offering the same great pump through retail locations (on-line and brick-and-mortar), insurance benefits, and WIC you can depend on Ameda to provide moms with the tools they need to feed their baby.

Bonus from Ameda: [email protected]’s T-Shirt! – Retail Value: $15
All proceeds from the sale of the shirt go to Mother & Child Health Coalition in St Louis.

Tula Baby CarriersErgonomic Baby Carrier – Retail Value: $149
Tula Carriers, Ring Slings, and Wraps, known for comfort, quality, and style, are the top choice in handmade ergonomic baby carriers to be used from birth through toddlerhood and beyond.

MommyCon2 General Admission Tickets to MommyCon – Retail Value: $80
Two general admission tickets to any MommyCon in 2015. MommyCon is you chance to hear Jessica, founder and owner of The Leaky Boob, speak along with a collection of other gifted speakers. Check out when MommyCon will be in a city near you!

Rebecca Michi – Children’s Sleep Consultant: a Copy of Her Book: Sleep and Your Child’s Temperament and a 45 minute telephone sleep consultation – Retail Value: $166
In ‘Sleep and Your Child’s Temperament’, discover how important your child’s personality is in achieving the rest they need. Whether baby sleep, toddler sleep or the sleep of preschool children, learn how to help your child – and you – get a good night’s sleep.

A 45 minute telephone sleep consultation with award winning author and no cry sleep consultant Rebecca Michi. We can work on schedules, routines, gently encouraging more independent sleep, dropping night feeds (when age appropriate) and creating a perfect sleep space if that be bedsharing or crib sleeping.

Spray PalSpray Pal splatter shield – Retail Value: $25
The Spray Pal Splatter Shield was invented by parents to make pre-rinsing cloth diapers easy and mess-free! Just clip your diaper in, grab your diaper sprayer and spray clean at full pressure without worrying about any backsplash on you or the bathroom floor. Easy to clean and folds flat for easy storage.

Goumikids: Goumikids Newborn Set – Retail Value: $40
Goumikids products feature innovative, smart design so that mitts, boots and hats stay put, comfortably. The newborn set is the perfect accompaniment to baby’s arrival with mitts to keep baby from scratching, a hat to regulate body temperature, and boots to keep toes cozy. Organic cotton/bamboo blend.

Beyond the Willow Tree: $50 Gift Voucher – Retail Value: $50
Keepsake jewelry store specializing in unique breast milk jewellery, hair jewellery, placenta and umbilical jewellery, wedding and special keepsakes from a loved ones ashes.

Eyla’s: Eyla’s Starter Package – Retail Value: $140
With this package you receive:
1 x 4oz bottle of Momma Nature Clean Hand Spritz which is all Natural, Vegan and edible. The main ingredient is Tea Tree Oil which is naturally antibacterial.
1 x Baby Comfy Nose Nasal Aspirator. Baby Comfy Nose uses your own suction, so it is much more effective than bulb and battery type aspirators. The design protects you from any contact with mucus and germs, but use a tissue in the body of the aspirator as an effective and disposable filter.
1 x Zen Rocks Infinity Heart Silicone Jewelry. The Infinity Heart design represents never-ending possibilities and no limitations on love.
2 x Baltic Amber Necklace one for baby and one for mom. Amber is associated with sunlight and warmth and reputed to boost the immune system, reduce inflammation, accelerates the healing of wounds, reduce inflammation of the throat, ear and stomach infections and respiratory disease. There are no tablets, medications or pastes that can compete with this amber, the necklace is unique and has amazing results which are all natural.
1 x Aqua Vessel Insulated Stainless Steel Filtration Bottle. The Aqua Vessel Insulated Filter Bottle is the first of its kind – a bottle that not only keeps your water cold, but also filters as you drink. Our sustainable plant-based filter attaches easily to the straw top, so every sip you take is cleaned on its way to your mouth. The Stainless Steel design will also allow you to keep cold liquids cold for 36+ hours.

PebbleRainbow Bunny Rattle – Retail value: $22
This cheerful Bunny Rattle from Pebble is handmade and is bringing smiles to faces around the world. This fair trade product provides much-needed employment to mothers providing for their children in rural Bangladesh. Machine washable. 

Total Value of this bundle: $857

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Good luck to everyone!  Please use the widget below to be entered.  The giveaway is open from April 22, 2015 through April 29, 2015.  A big thanks to all of the sponsors of this birthday giveaway bundle for their support of TLB and all breastfeeding women; please be sure to take a moment to thank them on their Facebook pages for their show of support!

This giveaway bundle is open to international participants. 

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In Search of Answers on Breastfeeding

by Elizabeth Grattan
I found the Leaky Boob after a long while of going it alone in my nursing journey. I lurked silently for months. I watched women come for support. I listened and I learned. And I am so thankful and grateful for the resource. We are three plus years and going strong, my lad and I. And so, in the spirit of forward support, the following is my contribution to celebrate five wonderful years of encouragement for women and men. Thank you Jessica and your admins and the entire family of TLB. All those in this community who make the difference. — Elizabeth
The Leaky Boob #SupportForward #MyStoryMatters Breastfeeding support

The author and her son.

So many questions. So many answers. Information at our fingertips as we crowd source for support and scour the internet to validate our choices. And still, with all the resources in the world, so much still unknown.

Until we figure out we’re answering the wrong questions. We’re framing our dialogues wrong. We’re talking, but we’re not really saying anything. We’re hearing, but we aren’t really listening. We’re trying to reach, without teaching the things that equip and empower women.

So stop for minute. And consider a better lesson….

The reproductive right that belongs to women. The informed choice she can make when taught all the information. The answer to every single question:

Teach children about anatomy. Equip and educate on reproductive choice early and often. Teach the history of breastfeeding. That autonomy always mattered. That milk is custom to species. That women weaned. That nursing a child is part of the reproductive journey.

Teach what alternatives were used besides the mother’s breast to nourish the offspring. Animals, meat stocks, slaves —  hundreds of options that tested our humanity along the way. Teach the history. The good, the bad, the ugly. Teach the injustice. Teach the risk they carried. Teach that babies died early. That infant mortality was horrifying. That we used and exploited women’s bodies.

Teach that we wanted to breastfeed. That we wanted to wean. That we wanted to dry up our milk completely. That we were once unknowingly stripped of a choice. That a pill and a shot were just par for the course. That women and children were at risk. That our options were hit or miss.

Teach the advancements in our journey. How far we have come. How we’re still not done. How amazing that is. That women and children live. But that for some, those same horrors still exist. Teach that we are still working on it.

Teach the socio-economics. Teach the privilege. Teach the realities and the limits on women. Teach the strides we’re making. Teach the change in legislation. Teach that we can and have and will succeed in decisions.

Teach that nursing is a learning process. That seeing breastfeeding matters. That we need observation and exposure. Teach that qualifications have no place. That normalizing keeps women and children from hiding under cover in shame.

Teach about the imperfection in reproduction. So no one is taken aback because a myth told them it was for everyone. Teach how to handle the griefs and losses for women who had their reproductive choices stripped from them.

Teach how to dry the milk. Teach how to wean. Teach how to latch a baby. Teach the laws on breastfeeding. Teach people everything.

And don’t assume a woman will decide to nurse and don’t assume she won’t. Ask her. Trust her answer. Trust her answer might change. And empower her along the way.

So if she says: “I do not want to use my reproductive system this way,” you say: “Okay, here is information on all your options. From drying your milk to stopping engorgement to offering your child their developmental requirement. Here is what’s safe. Here is what isn’t.”

So if she says: “I want to use my reproductive system this way,” you say: “Okay, here is information on all you’re offering. From latching your child to expressing your milk to never forgetting to be kind to yourself. Here is what’s safe. Here is what isn’t.”

But don’t battle about if a reproductive process has benefits. Don’t project your personal preference. Don’t ignore the anecdotes. Don’t ignore the evidence. Don’t tell. Listen. And ask the only relevant question:

“What do you want to do? Because it’s your body, it’s your call. And I want you to know I’m here to help you. Through it all.”

_______________

How would you answer the above question? How have you asked it in support of other women? How are you giving support forward?

_______________

Elizabeth Grattan bio headshot
Elizabeth Grattan is a broadcast talent and writer who has covered current events, human interest and social justice for over twenty-five years. Her loves are the strong, gentle arms of her best friend, reasonably priced blended reds and obviously her dream come true little man. Find & friend Elizabeth on FB or follow along on Twitter.
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